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Healthy You Happy You

University Health Centre

Telephone/Appointments: (01) 708 3878
Location: Student Services Centre, North Campus (beside the John Hume building)

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9:30-12:45 & 14:00 – 16:45
(Emergency cases take priority over appointments)

Out of Hours Service
Phone Dr. Denis Gaffney’s surgery at (01) 629 1169 and listen to the recorded message carefully. Dr. Gaffney is in a rota with other doctors in the area. You will be advised which doctor is on duty and how to make contact with them.

A healthy and balanced lifestyle are key to being happy in college and it is something that myself and the team are gonna spend the year promoting: a healthy diet, safe-drinking, encouraging exercise and stress management, promoting talking, asking and listening and discouraging smoking and drug-use. So sit back, read on and take what you will from your welfare officer’s ‘Healthy you, Happy You’ guide to college...

Let’s start with the basics: a decent diet. It’s a major challenge for all of us especially on a small budget. But it is important to your academics, your stress levels, your sleep, your pocket and your health. Understand food, appreciate it, and you’ll learn to love it and eat better.

Basic Nutrition

One of the biggest challenges students face is eating healthily on a small budget. This section will equip you with info, advice and meal plans to help you keep happy and healthy during your time here. 


These supply the body with fuel necessary to carry out daily activities and exercise. Without carbohydrates we become tired, lose focus and concentration and can bring down our mood. Half the foods we eat should be carbohydrates.
e.g. Brown bread, spuds, pasta, lentils, beans, peas, whole grain cereals, vegetables.


Protein is needed for growth, maintenance and repair of cells. While we get our energy from above protein keeps everything in our body ticking over: our organs, muscles, metabolism, healthy bones and skin.
e.g. mix up your protein sources: red meat, pulses, eggs, chicken, dark green vegetables, fish, turkey.


Our body needs fat for heat, protection and as a source of energy. There are healthy and unhealthy fats: healthy fats are vegetable oils, oily fish, seeds, nuts or avocados. Unhealthy ones are crisps, fried foods and pastries.

Vitamins & minerals

Missing certain vitamins in our diet can lead to fatigue, poor skin, teeth and bones. Most vitamins are found in fruit and vegetables and should be ideally eaten raw and at the very least should only cooked for a short period of time

Minerals such as calcium p, iron and potassium are needed for a number of vital bodily processes including strengthening bones and nails and teeth and regulating body fluid.

Water water and more water! We should be consuming about 3 litres of liquid per day and should be mostly water, but also from juices fruits, soup and milk.

Here are a couple of tips to keeping a healthy diet on a budget:

1.    Learn to cook. His will save you so much in the long-run and it’s a necessary skill in college-survival, even if it’s just one speciality main course, it’s a start.

2.   Enjoy your food! Learn to appreciate good food and tastey food, experiment with new things and vary your menu and your diet, keep an eye on The Print and The MSU website for menu ideas.

3.   Shop together as a house at the start of each week, a tenner each will easily cover your meals and snacks for the week.

4.   Snack healthy: eat fruit, nuts, dried fruit, popcorn, rice cakes, crackers. These can also be healthy ways to help you lose weight in a sensible way.

5.   Don’t skip breakfast: eat a high-fibre breakfast such as porridge, brown toast, juice, fruit and toast. Drink tea instead of coffee. It’s cheaper & healthier.

6.   Drink plenty of water (it is the best hangover cure as dehydration is the main source of a hangover)

7.   Roughly plan your meals for the week, and save money at dinner by making a little extra for your lunch the next day, heat it in the microwaves on campus.

8.   Keep to the magic number 3: 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and 3 parts to each meal e.g. breakfast – cereal, toast and fruit

9.   Avoid take-aways and sugary snacks: they’re really bad for your health and your pocket (but hey in moderation they don’t hurt!)

10.  Watch what you eat during exams and study periods, it’s when we get lazy and want to go down on Mezzoni’s pizza and 100% indulge. Instead, increase your snack stock of fruit, nuts, cereal bars and water and commit yourself to keeping a strong breakfast, a light lunch and big dinner.

Bonus Tip!

Stock the cupboards with the following basics at the start of each semester...

  • Carbohydrates: plenty of white/brown pasta and rice & olive oil is key
  • Tins of beans, peas, sweet-corn tomatoes and lentils.
  • Sauces & seasoning: tomato sauces, curry, salt/pepper, chilli, soy sauce etc.
  • Meat to put straight into freezer (eg. mince, chicken fillets, chops)
  • … and just top up with fresh ingredients each week
  • Breakfast cereals, milk & cheese
  • Plenty of fruit, vege & salad
  • Brown bread, potatoes, fresh meat and eggs
  • Meals on Wheels! Tips on eating well in a hurry #examtime
  • Pasta, pesto and bacon bits – boil pasta (5-8mins), heat up bacon bits, strain water, add pesto & bacon to the pasta pot to heat and voila!
  • Pasta, tuna, sweetcorn, mayonnaise – as above only faster!
  • Egg-cellent! Omelette with cheese and ham – mix 2 eggs with milk and herbs, and put on pan on low heat, add cheese and ham, flip and cook until done
  •  My favourite fastie: Scrambled eggs on brown toast - mix 2 eggs in a cup, add pinch of salt, pepper, herbs and drop of milk – microwave for 3mins, stir and cook for another 3 until done, have toast on at same time. Sorted.
  •  That’s a wrap folks: pan on medium heat, drissle of oil, throw on chopped chicken and peppers, cook until chicken browns, sneaky bit of salsa or sauce of your choice, serve on wrap with salad and mayonnaise…and off you go!

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” - George Bernard Shaw 

Eating disorders

Eating well doesn’t just mean getting your fair share of the food pyramid, it also means understanding food and our relationship with it. The term ‘eating disorder’ refers to a complex, potentially life-threatening condition, characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior. They can be used as a way of coping with emotional distress.

Some ways of spotting an eating disorder in friends:

- They will often have a self esteem problem
- They may avoid meals and claim they are on a short-term diet
- They have a strong concern on their own body size and shape and may also become obsessed with those of other people.
- They may view their body as larger than it really is.
- They may find it difficult to express their emotions and feelings
Men can also have eating disorders

The important thing to remember is that those with eating disorders can and do recover. But it is important that you reach out and get help and support from those around you, because although you mightn’t think it, people want to help. And I certainly do! So drop by the welfare office and Ask Aidan.

For more information contact
helpline: 1890 200 444

Drugs & Alcohol

University presents all forms of tastes, temptation and new experiences, new drink and drugs may be one such flavaaa. All of us react to drink and/or drugs differently and it’s important to make your own decisions as to what you try and what you should stay away from.
There are a number of effects to drink and drugs:

  • Feeling more confident, even invincible; feeling sleep, passing out
  • losing balance or feeling dizzy, vomitting
  • Alcohol is a depressant, it can affect your coordination (spilling your drink much?) and, on a serious note, your judgment. Be careful.
  • Violence and anti-social behaviour. If you’re around someone who is being aggressive because of alcohol, keep your cool and keep your distance.
  • Alcohol can also have serious long-term effects on your health: liver damage, hallucinations, memory loss and stomach damage. Definitely things to avoid.
  • Drinking too much can also cause you to feel moody or anxious, which can cause problems with your friends and tension at home.
  • Drugs can also have serious health effects such as paranoia, addiction, depression, heart and blood problems, death.
  • Don’t mix your drinks: beer and cider, whisky and Guinness, WKD and lager, it doesn’t matter, don’t mix them otherwise you’re on a one-way ticket to passing out with your stomach on the floor beside you.
  • Don’t mix alcohol and drugs. Never. Not even once. Not even if theres a fire.
  • Eat before your drink, while you drink and after you drink. Eat eat eat to absorb alcohol and drink plenty of water, like shit loads before during and after you drink.
  • Don’t do rounds and drink at your own pace. Seriously 90% of the time you end up drunk every time. Know your limits – what’s grand for others may not be grand for you
  • Just don’t drink and drive, or operate heavy machinery. You’re not as in control, and therefore more in danger
  • Stay with people you know and trust
  • Carry condoms – the effects of alcohol may make you more relaxed and you might be more likely to have sex without thinking about the consequences. If you’re having sex, use a condom to keep yourself safe from STIs and prevent unwanted pregnancy.
  • Neglecting school work/college assignments/skipping work
  • Getting into trouble at school/work/home
  • Feeling hungover in the mornings more than every now and then
  • Thinking about drinking a lot during the day
  • Feeling very edgy for no apparent reason
  • Regularly drinking more than you meant to
  • Finding you have to drink more to get the same effect as you used to.
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Lack of energy and feeling empty or anxious
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Crying a lot, feeling agitated, or losing temper
  • High use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawing socially & losing interest in things they once enjoyed
  • Headaches or stomach aches


Don’t mix your drinks: beer and cider, whisky and Guinness, WKD and lager, it doesn’t matter, don’t mix them otherwise you’re on a one-way ticket to passing out with your stomach on the floor beside you.

  • Don’t mix alcohol and drugs. Never. Not even once. Not even if theres a fire.
  • Eat before your drink, while you drink and after you drink. Eat eat eat to absorb alcohol and drink plenty of water, like shit loads before during and after you drink.
  • Don’t do rounds and drink at your own pace. Seriously 90% of the time you end up drunk every time. Know your limits – what’s grand for others may not be grand for you
  • Just don’t drink and drive, or operate heavy machinery. You’re not as in control, and therefore more in danger
  • Stay with people you know and trust
  • Carry condoms – the effects of alcohol may make you more relaxed and you might be more likely to have sex without thinking about the consequences. If you’re having sex, use a condom to keep yourself safe from STIs and prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Signs of drug abuse problem

* sharp changes in energy and mood levels
* cycles of excessive sleep 
* persistent coughing, marks on arms or facial abnormalities
* increased anger, irritability, agitation, paranoia
* unusual changes in lifestyle e.g. fall off from lecture attendance or commitment to college work


As we’ve said, drinking in moderation can be grand and most of us do it. But we also know that sometimes things get out of hand. It can be hard to realise your drinking has become a problem, or to notice that a friend is drinking too much, because it’s so socially acceptable. But here are some signs you should keep an eye out for:

Help is here


Chaplains, counseling, SU Welfare Officer, Health centre, student advisors are all here to help. If you or a friend is suffering with a drink or drug problem then contact them. We’re here to help you.

Off-campus supports:

Drugs & Alcohol Awareness Programme – DAP provides live helper-interactive services, telephone & mobile help-line services and various other online services for drug and alcohol issues. Visit or call 01 8360911. You can also call the HSE Drugs helpline on 1800 459 459.
Alcoholics Anonymous – There are AA meeting held on campus in An Tobar, find out more from Chaplaincy. Call 01 8420700 or
Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) –Visit
Visit for more handy information on safe-drinking


Best advice re to smoking: don’t. 1 in 2 smokers die from a tobacco-related disease. I won’t bore you with a list of effects, we’ve all heard them by now. But here are the 4 Ds to help you deal with cravings if you do decide to quit smoking as recommended by the Irish Cancer Society & the HSE:
1. Drink water – water/juice helps the cravings to pass
2. Delay – wait at least 3-5 minutes and the urge will pass
3. Distract yourself – move away from the situation
4. Deep breaths – Breathe slowly and deeply

Visit for more information on quitting or call 1850 201 203
You can also pop into me or the health centre to help put in place a quitting plan. 

“Mind your mind cause without your mind you’ll very soon find you’ll go out of your mind and without your mind you’ll become out of kind and completely and utterly mentally blind!”

I’m here to help you mind your mind with 3 quick tips. This is the holy trinity to keeping healthy and happy in college:

1)    Get plenty of regular sleep: get into a regular sleeping pattern: bed by 12, up by 12. Simples. But genuinely, sleep is vital in college to functioning properly: even going out and drinking becomes tough without the proper energy levels!

2)   Get plenty of good food in your belly: Learn to cook. Take foods with plenty of slow-releasing energy. Appreciate good food and eat in a nutritious regular pattern, with plenty of healthy snacks, fresh grub & water (hangover cure = water x 6,000)

3)   Talk: talk about your problems, worries, concerns, fears, anxieties, goals, successes, dreams, ambitions, desires, all things positive and negative: Talk. Vent. In the words of Charles Wright: “all you’ve got to do now…is express yourself”. Talking is a sign of strength, not of weakness and this should be remembered by men especially who are infamously poor at venting negative energy.

Stress Management

One problem that we all face at college (myself included) is stress and how we manage it. If we let stress and our workload get the better of us it can destroy our work/life balance, hinder our productivity, our health and happiness. Talking about it is the first step to helping yourself on the road to managing yourself better, reach out and ask for help from a friend, relative, partner or me, never be afraid to Ask Aidan. Here are some helpful online websites:  / / /

Eat well: I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again: eat well my friends. It will save your money, you’ll enjoy it and it’s so good for your body and mind. Take slow-releasing energy foods as part of a balanced diet. Drink plenty of water and fruit and vege. Take the time to cook, don’t rush it or you’ll become more stress, play music, cook with friends, make it fun! Alcohol is a short-term mood-enhancer, but hitting the drink hard have the opposite effect on the body than exercise has.

Exercise, like a lot: exercise releases hormones called endorphins all around your body that make you feel gooddd. You’ll sleep better after exercising, and if you couple exercise with a run/swim/jog in the gym or better yet out in the fresh air then a good sleeping pattern will follow.

Organize & prioritise – Make a list, sit down with a pen and paper and write out a list of what you need to do, sort out how you can go about doing it! Contact the academic advisory office on 01 708 3368 for help. The counselling and chaplaincy departments can also help here, as can I. I’ve been there so just pop in and Ask Aidan and we’ll work it out together.

Sleep: Get into a good sleeping pattern where you go to bed and get up at similar times. Cut out going on your phone or the laptop before going to sleep as the bright screen keeps your mind buzzing. Have a warm shower before bed to relax you, and get into the habit of reading something completely unrelated to your daily life to distract you completely, which allows your mind to slowy switch off, relax and zzzzz…

Live, laugh and be optimistic: It’s important to have a source of laughter in our lives: a favourite TV show or website perhaps, but the best laughs are those we get from friends and family so socialize and get the kettle on and the crac will follow. Positivity is also important in your life: stay young, stay foolish & despite the economic circumstancestell yourself in the words of Bob Marley: “don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright.”


This is what can happen if we let stress get the better of us (and AGAIN, myself included). Tips: Again it is important to organize and prioritize your workload and to reach out and talk to people about what is going on in your life. Here are a few tips to deal with anxiety:
- Organise & prioritise your workload
- Distraction tecniques - take yourself out of the stressful situation and revisit it after a break e.g. music, walk, cinema
- EVERYTHING mentioned in the stress section
- Realistic goals – set yourself realistic goals for your day ahead, and then for your week, if you are successfully achieving your daily goals eg.. Do 45mins of exercise in gym; return book to library; attend lectures. It can be that simple.
- Be assertive – think to yourself: Learn how to say ‘no’ if you’ve too much on! 
- Always have something to look forward to each day – no matter how small it is do it! It could be watching a TV programme or eating your favourite meal. Remember: “Today was good. Today was fun Tomorrow is another one”


A sharp increase in the number of young people with depression and the suicide rate as a result of mental health issues is the by far worst by-product of the recession. Here is a quick guide to how you can help someone who is depressed and also where to find help if you or somebody else needs it.

Signs of depression:

However, it’s important to remember that depression has many meanings and just because you’re feeling depressed doesn’t mean you’re suffering from clinical depression.

Help with depression

It’s both normal and common to have feelings of depression. Those feelings can often be resolved with a little help from friends or family.

However, if feelings of depression persist over a couple of weeks it’s worth looking at the range of ways to get support – both by changing our behaviour and also engaging formal help.

Eating well and being active – even though you might not feel like it, exercising and eating well can help when you’re feeling down. Biological factors, as well as social factors, influence how you feel and think about yourself.

Writing down your feelings – this can be a great way of understanding your emotions, their triggers and a specific situation. It can also help you think about alternative solutions to problems.

Taking time out – it’s a good idea to try and take a bit of each day to do something you enjoy. When you’re feeling down it can be hard to motivate yourself but try to make a list of things you enjoy. Plan to do one of them each day.

Talk to someone – although it may seem hard, sharing how you feel with someone you trust can help you see alternative ways of thinking about a problem, and help make you a happier in general.

Call a helpline – if you feel you’re having difficulty talking to people you know or when you need to talk to someone at 3 am. Services include Samaritans on 1850 609090 and 1Life on 1800 24 7 100.

Talk to a GP or counsellor – sometimes, people don’t feel comfortable talking to someone close. The counseling and health centre maybe an option, visit to find out the services in the area
Ask Aidan – drop in my office for a chat. I am here to listen and to help.

Please remember that talking is a sign of strength, not of weakness. Myself and the MSU team are here for you and wouldn’t be here without you. If you need us: visit, call, text, ring, e-mail us. Send us a carrier pigeon with your message sure! Just contact us and we’ll help you. If this economic sh*thole we’re in has thought us anything it is that we’re all in it together. Someone helped me yesterday, I’ll help someone today and you’ll hopefully help someone tomorrow and together we can help each other to survive so we can live and live so we can laugh.

Be healthy. Be happy. Be you.

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